Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Saving Australia's River Red Gums

On our recent visit to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, we came across a cemetery at Lake Mournpall. Perhaps one hundred mature trees stood dead on the flood plain, a stark reminder of the impact of severe drought and competing demands for water in recent years. My earlier post Australia’s Not-So-Civil Water War has some background on these issues.

River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) are iconic trees in Australia. Of the 800 eucalyptus species, they hold a very special place in our national psyche. They grow to 45 metres and can live for 500 years or more. They live beside rivers, lakes and on flood plains and rely on regular flooding for their survival.

The good news is that governments have taken action in recent years to allocate ‘environmental water’ to areas such as Hattah Lakes and the Barmah forest on the Murray River:
The Commonwealth allocated 7,300ML of environmental water to the Hattah Lakes in Winter 2010. This water will help ensure the long term sustainability of this iconic site, provide refuge for waterbirds and benefit fringing river red gums and will fill a number of lakes that have not been full since 1996.
Environmental watering: Murray catchment

The following slideshow, River Reds, shows some of the benefits of this policy. Thanks to Heather Milton for the photographs taken at Hattah.

This is a cross post from Th!nk4: Climate Change.

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